Newspaper articles from the 1930s report that a mixture of New Deal funds and private spending in the amount of $975,000 were used to construct the Bureau of Public Roads Research Center. According to the Bureau of Public Roads annual reports, 1937-1939, the new research facilities were constructed on the “Abingdon Plantation,” also known as “the old Custis Estate near Gravelly Point.”
This area today is roughly where the Washington National Airport parking garages are situated. A small green area between the two garages is a remnant of the plantation (the CCC did historic preservation work here).
A 1939 Evening Star article says that the new Bureau of Public Roads buildings were being transferred to the newly-created Civil Aeronautics Authority.
The current status of the buildings is unknown, but they appear to still exist. A satellite view shows a cluster of buildings next door to the airport’s parking garages, just to the west, that looks New Deal era. These are the current home of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
National Archives, Record Group 69, Records of the Work Projects Administration, “Newspaper clippings file, 1935-1942.”
“Capital’s Biggest Building Program Promises A Boon By Spring: Expenditures May Reach $200,000,000,” Washington Post, November 27, 1938.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - wpatoday.org on June 22, 2013.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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